Approaching and Important Deadlines for People Eligible for Medicare

Advocates and those eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B, or beneficiaries who want to change their Medicare Advantage plan enrollment need to be aware that both the Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP) is currently open and ends on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)

Beneficiaries who are eligible and wish to enroll in either Medicare Part A or Part B, but are not in their Initial Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period, can only enroll between January 1, 2021 and Marchi 31, 2021, also known as the GEP. During the GEP individuals must apply through the Social Security Administration (SSA) with coverage starting July 1, 2021.

It is essential to apply during the GEP, particularly for individuals in California who do not have premium-free Part A and who may be eligible for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program. Individuals must apply at SSA for “conditional” Part A during the GEP before applying with the State for the QMB assistance program. If the March 31, 2021, deadline is missed the individual will have to wait until the next open enrollment to apply for QMB coverage.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP)

During the MA-OEP, individuals enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans can drop their MA coverage and choose original Medicare with a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or change from one MA plan to another, with or without prescription drug coverage. Individuals in Original Medicare may not use the MA-OEP to change their standalone Part D Plan choice or join an MA plan. For enrollees without the Low-Income Subsidy (”Extra Help”), this is the last opportunity in the year to change coverage during the year unless they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period A list of SEPs is here.